Thread: The Psychology of Bullshido
2/25/2006 12:53pm, #11Originally Posted by I aint punchy!?
I'm going to tie two particular mental phenomena together to try and partially explain why people persist doing martial arts that an independent observer might consider to not teach useful fighting skills, even though this happens to be the primary reason why the person is doing that art.
A fallacy is an incorrect piece of logical reasoning used to justify a position. The sunk-cost fallacy is logic along the lines of :- I can't give up now or everything I've done, all the effort I've put up until this point, will be for nothing. This is often used when the real cost of something is far more than what was initially invisioned.
This also interacts with another psychological phenomena. The value we place on things emotionally is closely linked to the cost we paid to acquire that thing. For instance, if two people buy the same make and model of car. One pays twice as much as the other. Studies have shown that this guy will value his car far more than the one who bought it at a cheaper rate. This effect is more pronounced in cases where the quality of something is not easily quantifiable. For instance, cars might be easily comparable, but if you sell a piece of art, it is a well known marketing phenomena that if you ask for a low price people will emotionally value it less than something that costs more.
For many styles of MA, the quality of the martial art is hard to realistically assess. Many MAers dont do any real full contact fighting. This might be due to the manner in which it is taught (sometimes referred to as 'light recreational MA'), or the subject matter and how it is presented (e.g. specialising in eye strikes but also believing that any protective gear for sparring would ruin the techniques taught). Also, arts that allow for full contact fighting might have restrictions that prevent the useful comparison of the MAers' fighting skills with members of the general public. For instance, full-contact rules that prohibits wrestling movements or punches to the head) Lastly, most don't fight people from other arts or people who don't train in Mas (e.g. grid-iron players).
To explore this idea lets define a benchmark, the 'simple martial arts benchmark' (SMAB), as the number of training hours required for an individual to have a 95% of defeating a person in a fight if that person is your own size and has no martial arts experience. Using this benchmark we can compare different MAs. If 2 MAs espouse the ability to defeat people in fights (I think all MAs would make this statement) and one art has the average practitioner reach the SMAB at 6 months, while the other has an average SMAB of 10 years, then we can reach the conclusion that the former art is more efficient than the latter art.
Let us presume that we are a MAer that has adopted a new style. The instructors in this style say that it is the most effective style of fighting in the world. As a result we train hard. After 2 years we fight a friend who is about the same size who is a couch potato and only knows schoolyard fighting tactics. We lose. As such we have not yet passed the SMAB yet. Based on this we might then conclude that the quality of the MA is poor.
So to some up, it is easy for a MAer to be bullshido and still have a successful business due to the interacting effects of several things:
a) most people have difficulty in assessing the quality of martial arts
b) the sunk-cost fallacy,
c) the sunk-cost fallacy being exacerbated by instructors overcharging so that potential students feel that the quality of the MA is more than it is.
d) no real benchmarking by students.
View if you will the bully/nerd syndrome. Everybody wants to feel wanted they are drawn into packs, cliques as they were. 5 out 7 of these cliques are considered sub standard as it was. These groups will be put in western terms of
a. computer jocks and video nerd
g. cool crowd.
Now if we were to take a and b we would see the need to belong but only within their set groupings. Within their respective microverse they see the world through unrealistic eyes sometimes envying that which is around them. Computer jocks and video nerds will tend to try to find a short cut to everything there for be willing to believe any **** they find on the internet. The watch VR troopers and Dragno ball Z, some fantasy Jackie Chan Shoalin **** and believe that is what martial arts is. They find the instructor to give it to them as they live out some fucked up fantasy.
Wannabes are the biggest sheep of them all. They will look at the f and g and try to follow their basic lead thinking they are doing right but missing the x-factor called majoris testiculie. They are the ones that'll settle for anything that will mimic their idealistic minds.
Outcasts, outcasts join the SCA and don't do real martial arts.
Scholars are easy because they won't study as much as they think. They believe what they read in books and are told by their instructor. They usually equate a good education with higher cost because that's how private schools work.
Then we have the jocks, jocks will believe anything as long as they get to sweat and there are some degree of instant gratification.
Cool crowd travel to their own drum. They've become so self-actuated that they are neither confined to what everybody thinks (sarcasm), now bring me a latte I'm late to my cardio kickboxing class. :beatdead:
2/25/2006 9:52pm, #12
I'm confused where do you and Asia fit in Omega. I'm trying to figure out where I would fit in too.
2/25/2006 10:39pm, #13
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- PRC, Shanxi, Lishi
- Hei Long Gong Fu
In highschool I was one of the "outcasts".
Despite a sca level fondness for swords I did legitimate martial arts for two reasons: 1: I like to fight. I like to fight a lot. In the late days of grunge a lot of "outcasts" liked to fight, we hadn't been completely supplanted by baby goths yet.
2: The SCAdians aren't even good with swords. And DON'T get me started on my opinion on foam boffers. :angry4: :angry4: :angry4:
I got to university and I became one of the "cool kids" because both I and the few people who also made it to University grew up a lot. It's amazing how much growing up 16 year olds still need to do... I say that as someone who was 16 and looks back on my childishness at that age, and the childishness of my peers, and realizes that despite feeling like an adult at that age I was not yet. Nor was anyone else.
2/26/2006 7:20am, #14
- Join Date
- Jun 2005
I thought bullshidos pilosophy was weeding out and exposing the bull **** artists that claim they are so much when they have no proof. And having a little content for over arts as the defence knoledge came from some where. I know wing chun can get bagged in MMA . I am assumming it is basicly not designed for endurance but maybe surprise defence
2/26/2006 8:28am, #15
Some schools that get labled bullshido seem to get that because they charge money. I find it somewhat irritating that many on here seem to think for what ever reason, that they are entitled to train for free.
The problem occurs when an instructors main goal is money. Once your main goal is money you begin to think of martial arts as your 'product'. Like any good entrepreneur you begin to give the customer what they want. In this case though, that can lead to teaching energy cultivation, giving dan rankings to a kid that can barely piss standing up, etc. It's a thin line my friend. Beware!
2/26/2006 8:34am, #16
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
It all boils down to image. The thing about fighting is that unlike most any other physical activity it is rooted in our ego image of our manhood, as dominance/submission issues are physically most obvious. Growing up we are pushed around by the larger, stronger, older kids and adults. To some extent we derive some sense of our self-worth by where we fit in the dominance heirarchies and it also contributes to our sense of control and autonomy. It's funny how you can tell someone that you could easily beat them at table tennis (because you've spent years playing table tennis) and they won't care, but tell them you could easily kick their ass (because you've spent years fighting) and lots of people get angry, defensive, etc. Now you are attacking their self image.
Some people grow out of this, and some don't. Those that don't, perhaps some of those mentioned about, seek ways of improving their self-image of themselves -- particularly their image of their ability to fight. Since as adults in a civilized society, fighting is very limited occurance except in certain circumstances, they can take a martial art, never fight, but by doing exercises and by playing games that in some way can be associated with fighting, convince themselves (and let themselves be convinced) that they are no longer weaklings, no longer submissive, etc. They think of themselves as a potentially dangerous streetfighter.
Because these people are deeply afraid of fighting, and don't want to fight since it will only underscore their (in their mind) inadequacies, they look for martial arts that -- and you see this advertised all the time -- permit them to defeat larger, stronger opponents, even multiple opponents, and to do so without actually fighting as part of the training.
They won't test their skills as they know subconsciously that this might expose their real self, the scared guy who can't really fight. So they begin to find all kinds of reasons to support this stance, from "our stuff is too dangerous" to secrecy (if I fight, then I'd give away our style's secret). Bullshido springs up to take advantage of these people and anyone else it can snare.
2/26/2006 8:41am, #17
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- Prost's Mom
- Fucking Prost
Good article. I will add the fallacy of "sunk-cost" to my list, though that may be a variation of the classical "argument to the purse."
Anyways, why do teachers become Bullshidoists? Bullshido no Sensei?
Same reason anyone starts or becomes a leader in a cult. There are the few who are sufficiently clear of mind and sociopathic that they have every intention of exploiting others--monitarily, sexually, socially, et al. As L. Ron Hubbard's own son notes, he once stated that if he wanted to make a lot of money, he would start a religion.
For the rest, they come to enjoy the artificial regard. They have a uniform, they have some external designation, they have "subordinates." One they become a teacher . . . sorry "Sensei/Sifu" . . . they begin to believe they have ceased being a student because they have "learned it all."
What is "it?" As I aint punchy!? notes, many Bullshidos avoid or make excuses for conflict. Why? Conflict threatens exposure. I am "invincible" until I actually have to practice something with someone else. So I teach/practice some "magic" that promises "miracles" without the work. Ever meet a martial artists who actually claims he can fight someone without getting hit? Pre-arranged dancing-fighting merely solidifies this attitude--it makes the student then "SENSEI" actually believe his is "good."
A now Senior-Senior-Senior loves to tell a story: when he first started teaching way back . . . when people trained on broken glass . . . uphill . . . he was a 2nd DEGREE black belt.
Pause for the Readership to recover from the collective awe. . . .
Not just "a" black belt but a 2nd Degree! Well, as he confesses, he thought he was "pretty hot ****." His students were inferior to him and . . . well . . . he was a 2nd Degree! He . . . like . . . trained from the beginning in Okinawa . . . and stuff.
Well, one day he entered a tournament. As he puts it, "a Japanese guy, who did not really give a **** what rank I was, immediately kicked me in the gut and sent me out of the ring on my ass!"
He realized, examining his failure, that he did not know anything. Sorry if this reads too much like a "Dojo AfterSchool Special," but two critical lessons come into play:
1. The Bullshido Sensei Makes Excuses--if he is ever dumb enough to enter a tournament or spar/play with other practitioners . . . other styles. "That is not REAL FIGHTING [Tm.--Ed.]! In a REAL FIGHT . . . I would have . . . like . . . made his heart explode!" "My REAL techniques are SO dangerous . . . blah . . . blah.
2. The Bullshido Dojo Perpetuates the Myth--the S-S-S I reference realized his students never challenged him. How could they? He was "sensei" and . . . like . . . "invincible." They bought into the myth as he had. The Bullshidoist perpetuates this.
Same practitioner notices that similar excuses come from those who claim that aspects of training foreign to whatever style he practices are "unrealistic." Thus, you have practitioners who act "superior" and state "grappling" or "sparring" is "unnecessary" because . . . excuse . . . excuse. To study, consider aspects which is foreign or unknown is to admit one does not actually know everything. A Bullshido sensei cannot admit that; his students will feed on that.
This syndrome is well-known. There is a wonderful reference which, unfortunately it seems, is out of print called When Prophecy Fails. Basically, it was a study done decades ago of a cult whose leader declares the "world will" end, everyone sells their stuff, it does not end. Now, one would think this would destroy a cult. Not so: it weeds out the "non-true believers." The "true believers" who have invested a great deal of emotional currency into the cult find it very, very hard to admit they have been fooled. So they make excuses. They believe the excuses of the Cult Leader. In a way, the cult leader may believe them himself.
Those who leave? "Traitors!" "Whimps!!" "They do are not true WARRIORS!"
Those who stay are rewarded in many ways with greater position, the belief they are "stronger" than those who left. I have, unfortunately, seen students stay in abusive systems simply because they felt they would be "weak" to leave. Would you accept such crap from a golf instructer?
Right, enough pontification. . . .
2/26/2006 9:38am, #18
My question has allways been this, How can you be taken seriously in the Arts of war, if you can't play the games of war?
2/26/2006 10:13am, #19
Originally Posted by whybother
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- PRC, Shanxi, Lishi
- Hei Long Gong Fu
I'm in the process of splitting up with my girlfriend and as this was not what I had wanted I was understandably pissed off. Since my punching bag is on the verge of collapsing I decided to go hunting for one in the purported campus gym. I went there and I found a table tennis table and card/chess/mahjong tables. Now, don't get me wrong, I like a good game of mahjong as much as the next guy but I wanted to punch something (or somebody but the Sportive Combat club doesn't debut for a few weeks yet) so that didn't cut it. :zicon_ram
2/26/2006 4:01pm, #20
I think there is a mental version of the "sunk cost" thing
Where to change your mind about a martial art, you have to question your own judgement.
You see this all the time, supposedly, in trying to get people to file charges against con artists as well.